At-Home Anniversary

Day 25 of our state-wide lockdown and my and my husband’s 26th wedding anniversary. It feels a little weird. In the past, we’ve enjoyed a weekend away or even just a day trip somewhere. Last year for our 25th we enjoyed a whole week in Branson, Missouri. This year we won’t be going out to dinner, or to a movie, or anywhere outside our house. And our anniversary is even on a Friday this year! Friday is a perfect night for a night on the town! Normally.

Things aren’t normal right now though. Rich is still working, that much is normal. I’m still at home all day, that’s pretty normal. Except for the occasional coffee date with a friend, shopping with my daughter, or visit to my sister’s I don’t get out a whole lot. What’s not normal for us is the ability to come and go as we please and without a medical mask. The inability to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a favorite restaurant is not normal.

What’s life without a little adventure though, right? Opportunities to be creative are what make us grow and expand our horizons. So, while this anniversary might be different for sure, it can still be special. I just need to get a little creative. 🤔

Glorious Day

I just spent the better part of an hour outside in the most absolutely perfect weather (to me). A sunny sixty-six degrees with a light, occasional breeze. I have never wanted a hammock more in my life.

The distant sound of a neighbor’s lawn equipment, mourning doves cooing, other birds singing, the breeze dancing in the trees all served to lull me into a peaceful doze.

We have high-back swivel chairs that also rock on our back deck – not as good as a hammock, but suitable for dozing. One could easily forget that the world is in turmoil in that setting, and I did – for the better part of an hour.

☀️🍃🌸 😊

Poetry Corner

book close up color decoration

This poem was originally written ten years ago for my sisters-in-Christ. It’s about spending quality time with Jesus, something that’s more important than ever in today’s world. May you be blessed with His peace and comfort! 💕💕

Take Me Away

Take me away to a quiet place.
Let me gaze contentedly upon Your lovely face.
Speak to me in gentle tones,
Just you and I, together alone.
Let me feel Your presence and hear Your voice.
I long for You only, as if I had no choice.

Take me away to a quiet place.
Let me rest in the safety of Your loving embrace.
Where peace like a lazy river flows,
And perfumes the air like a sweet smelling rose.
No chaos, no drama, no stresses of life.
Just tranquility and comfort, freedom from strife.

Take me away, just You and me,
To a quiet place where we can just be.

                                                                                            ©Brenda Lenz, 2020

Not Afraid to be Vulnerable

I did something today that I didn’t really want to do. I was afraid that it would offend some people. I was afraid that I wouldn’t explain myself clearly. I was afraid that it would create a backlash that I wasn’t willing to deal with. I was just plain afraid. I did it anyway.

Christians are called to share their lives with one another; to confess our sins to and pray for each other – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” -James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NASB.; to share life’s ups and downs – ‬‬Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” -Romans‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB; and to help each other in times of trouble – ‬‬Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NASB. We call it fellowship. I consider myself a Christian yet I have failed at fellowship more times than I can count.

This past year and a half has been a tough one since my diagnosis, and I have gone from not too bad to worse, symptom-wise. I have stopped a lot of doing and going. I don’t go grocery shopping alone anymore, I don’t go anywhere where there’s not a table to lean on or a particular type of chair to sit in. I haven’t been to church in months, and in that absence I have had one person keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Not what I expected from the church.

On the flip-side, I have not reached out either. Maybe a stray notecard here and there, Facebook likes or comments on a post now and then, but no real connection. It’s been easy to get wrapped up in my own life and adjusting to my “new normal”. It’s easy to sit here and take on a victim role. That’s not healthy and thats not how I want my life to go. Playing the bitter victim just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I don’t like it. So, I did what I did today.

A couple of days ago I joined a group of women from my church doing a YouVersion devotional together. Today, Day 2, some of the women shared how much they appreciated the women at our church, how they were always there for them and it meant so much. I commented on how my experience had been the opposite. I shared, basically, that I wanted to change the lack of fellowship I felt within the church we’d been attending for about 8 years.

I wasn’t bitter or angry, I just wanted to be honest. I own my part in the situation, and I guess if I were to be really honest I wanted them to own theirs. I wanted to know that my absence didn’t go unnoticed. Fellowship is a two-way street and sometimes some of us are more needy than others. I’ve said this before and I need to remember it as much as the next person. We can’t share life’s ups and downs, and bear one another’s burdens, if we don’t share!‬‬ I assumed more people knew my situation than maybe actually did. I should have expressed myself sooner.

None of us are perfect. We ALL get wrapped up in our own families and day-to-day lives, and next thing we know it’s next month – or even next year! This has to change! Especially within the church! We need to get back to making time for other people. When I was a kid and someone invited our family for dinner, it was common practice to return the favor. Nowadays it seems like hospitality is almost a lost art. I can’t remember the last time anyone invited us to dinner and vice versa. Well, actually, I can remember the last time we had company for dinner, but it was Thanksgiving. I don’t think that counts.

It’s never easy to express disappointment or say something that might rock the boat. Although when I was younger it was a different story. My mother used to tell me I was tactless. I just thought of it as being honest. Sometimes I think I need to be that young girl again, not afraid to tell it like I see it. I think we should all be as honest, sprinkled with some love and grace. We in the church especially. Jesus was honest. He told it like He saw it with no apology. I want to be like Him. Speaking the truth in love, His kind of love – honest and fearless. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear . . . 1 John‬ ‭4:18‬a ‭NASB‬‬. I want to be better at fellowship and not afraid to be vulnerable with those considered my sisters-in-Christ. I pray that for all of us and that today was a start.

🙏🏻😊💕

The Wind and The Waves

A lot of us are familiar with the story of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”” -Matthew‬ ‭14:25-31‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How many of us right now have taken our focus off of Jesus and put it on the storm happening all around us? It is so easy to get caught up in the wind and waves of the news; whole countries on fire, earthquakes where there normally aren’t any, global pandemic with alarming fatality numbers! Just to name a few of the waves. Worldwide storms as well as storms right in our own homes threaten our sense of peace and security. The enemy seeks “only to steal and kill and destroy”, but Jesus came that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬. Life is much richer, and we are more productive and helpful to others, when we aren’t drowning in fear.

When we trust that God is in control and His plans for us are good – “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” -‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NASB‬ we can be at peace regardless of life’s circumstances. This doesn’t mean that we are exempt from having anything bad happen to us. It means that what happens to us will have purpose and our souls are protected. The Lord will be with us and see us through it all. We don’t need to fear illness, calamity, or even death. Death is merely the vehicle that delivers us into His Presence – the best place we could ever be!

It’s sad, yes. This life is full of heartache and pain, we all experience it and we don’t always know the whys and wherefores. And yet, for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ there is peace and hope in all circumstances. We can focus on Jesus and walk above the storm. It doesn’t mean that we’re not affected, it means we’re affected differently. “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” -‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Don’t focus on the storm around you. Read the news, keep up to date with what’s happening, but keep your FOCUS on Jesus, the One who controls the storm. In Him there is calm and peace . . . and hope! Always hope!

Love & prayers,
Brenda 🙏🏻💕😊

Holy Unto Thee

person sitting on rock on body of water

Though earth bound
Sin all around
I long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though perfection evades
And temptation persuades
I long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though I fall
I hear Your call
And long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though earth bound
I have found
That through the flood
Of Christ’s shed blood
Forever I will be
Holy unto Thee

©Brenda Lenz, 2020

He’ll See You Through

woman looking at sunset

When the days are dark
Hold on to His hand
Seek His face
He’ll show you the way

Victory is yours
When you rest assured
In the Father’s hands
There’s always a plan

Don’t lose hope
He’ll help you cope
Just seek His face
And His loving embrace

Put Him first
In all you do
Follow Him
He’ll see you through

                                                   ©Brenda Lenz, 2020

C.D. Journals – January 20, 2020

I haven’t written one of these in quite awhile so, I felt an update was in order. There are a couple of new things to chronicle. I got an emotional support kitten in September. 😉😂 It sounds funny, but she really is. It’s quite uncanny. She shows up whenever I’m crying and curls up on my chest, purring like a motorboat – and I mean EVERY time! She’s a gift from God!

My sweet Rich bought me a new vehicle right before Christmas – a 2020 Equinox with all kinds of sensors on it. Driving has gotten more uncomfortable as my head increasingly wants to stick to the left. I couldn’t drive our Cruze at all. The Equinox is wonderful. It has lane assist, blind spot sensors, collision warnings, and a sunroof! It is SO comfortable for me to drive. I can see really well in it.

And the icing on the cake that makes it so comfortable is the headrest pillow my sweet sissy got for me. It makes a world of difference.

As far as therapy goes, there’s not a lot of change. I’m trying not to get discouraged. Especially since I pretty much fell off the therapy wagon over the holidays. I’m trying to get back on now and building momentum is a challenge, but I’m confident I’ll get there. I turn 60 this year and I’m really hoping to “roll into recovery”, as the clinic director puts it, for my birthday. I’ve got about eight months.

It is increasingly difficult for me to get myself out in the world lately. Even with my wonderful new vehicle, I just feel uncomfortable in public. People either look at me funny and don’t say anything or they ask me what’s wrong with my neck. I used to try and explain Cervical Dystonia, but that got too complicated and I’d lose them quickly. Now I just say that I have a movement disorder and they seem to understand that better.

My head wants to stay turned to the left. I have to constantly hold it. For the few seconds when I don’t because I can’t figure a way to do something one-handed, my head feels like it wants to spin around and my muscles scream against it. The two places I am most comfortable are my bedroom chair and my living room chair with a pillow under the arm that’s supporting my head – both chairs are recliners. I like being comfortable so guess where I spend a lot of my time. I see that as a problem.

Life is a constant flow of issues that I need to work on it seems. Most recently just accepting the diagnosis, then learning to accept the new “normal”, and now dealing with progression of the disorder and increased social anxiety. Sigh! If I didn’t have Jesus and my husband by my side every day I don’t know where I’d be.

I haven’t “rolled into recovery” and the Lord hasn’t healed me yet. I have no idea whether either of those things will ever happen. One thing I can say for sure is that I am well taken care – spoiled even. Especially by my sweet, amazing husband who tells me he loves me every day. He is always there for me and will drop what he’s doing any time of the day or night to help me if I need it.


This is a picture of the sweetest, kindest, most selfless man I have ever known. God blessed me so greatly the day this guy came into my life almost 28-years ago and I am so thankful he stayed. He helps me to not give up and reminds me that regardless of the circumstances, life is worth fighting for. QUALITY of life is worth fighting for. With this man by my side, my life is indeed quality!

😊💕

Embassy Suites Austin Arboretum Review

For years I have wanted to take a little getaway at the beginning of the new year to refresh, renew, and reevaluate. We finally did it last week. My hubby and I traveled to the faraway land of Austin, Texas (about a 30-minute drive from our house 😂) for the weekend. We stayed in what used to be one of our favorite hotel chains – Embassy Suites.

We actually haven’t stayed in one in years so it was a bit of a step back in time, almost literally. It looked exactly the same as we remembered. The layout and decor anyway. We’ve never stayed at this particular hotel. One thing that made this Embassy Suites unique were the swans. Real live Royal swans living in the atrium.

We’d never seen that before. Their names are Butch and Sundance, and they’re brothers. Apparently British royalty used to keep these as pets inside the palace because they are basically defenseless against predators. We never heard a peep out of them and they seemed quite content in their indoor habitat.

Aside from the swans it was almost everything we remembered. Strangely enough I didn’t see that as a good thing. It felt like we had stepped into a time capsule; dated. It was in good shape. Nothing was run down, it just felt . . . dated. That’s the best word for it, I think. The atrium was beautiful, the room was clean and spacious – no valid complaints there.

One of the reasons my husband has always liked Embassy Suites is their complimentary, cook-to-order breakfast. That always felt a step above your typical Holiday Inn or Marriott. Who wouldn’t prefer a fresh, hot breakfast over a dry muffin, eggs of questionable origin, and so-so coffee?

I opted for the buffet breakfast while hubs went for his favorite, cooked-to-order omelette. I was not impressed. While it was adequate, the quality wasn’t what I remembered, and there was no bacon on the buffet table! What’s a vaca breakfast without bacon? Lacking, that’s what it is! My sweetie, on the other hand, was quite satisfied although he mentioned a slight decline in quality as well. Maybe it’s just a case of memory being better than reality?

All-in-all it was definitely a pleasant stay. We got a lot of planning done, slept well, and had no major complaints. Parking was free (something you don’t always get in the city), there were two pools and lots of lovely seating both indoors and out. There was a workout room, a 24-hour snack shop with coffee, and a complimentary lemonade station near the elevators. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and for just over $100/night for a two-bedroom king suite we felt it was a weekend well spent! If you don’t mind a more traditional decor and you find yourself in North Austin needing a good night’s sleep, I would recommend the Embassy Suites Austin Arboretum.

Happy travels! 🚗😊💕

Transparent

There’s a buzzword in Christian circles – “transparent”. We say that it’s a good thing and it basically means to be honest and open. When you’re transparent you’re not a pretender. You’re real about your life, your feelings, where you are in your journey with Jesus. My grandmother would probably have balked at that word. I’m sure they didn’t use it much in her day, or my Mother’s day, or even early in my day. I’ve been a Christian for 24-years and it’s probably only in the past 15-years that I’ve been hearing that word among my brothers and sisters-in-Christ.

Why do we even need that word? Because Christians are excellent pretenders and some of us finally got to the point where we couldn’t stand the pressure. Constantly wearing our “happy church faces” is exhausting. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re happier. It doesn’t exempt you from the harshness of life and having bad things happen to you. It only means that you deal with it a little differently because someone else is steering the boat. Someone with a much greater knowledge of what’s ahead and how to navigate.

I was raised by professional women. My mother was a secretary and an entrepreneur. My grandmother was an all-around businesswoman, active in the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Sons of Hermann, and very professional. My grandma taught me to put my best foot forward and how to project a professional image. I never saw her cry. I never heard her complain. I never saw her without her hair and makeup done until she was in her 70’s and battling Alzheimer’s. I adored my grandma and she was a strong role model for me. She also was not a professing Christian. “Transparent” she was not and neither was I for most of my adult life.

I still struggle a bit with the whole transparency issue. I believe there is such a thing as TMI (too much information). I also don’t like to be a downer, and I am terribly vain. I prefer to have it all together and look it. I have a couple of people in my life with whom I share any deep dark feelings that come along, and even then I do my best to sugar-coat it a little. I remember one time when I was totally and completely transparent and that was when I shared my salvation testimony with my home church. Afterward, I was amazed at the amount of people who told me how shocked they were at my history. They would never have guessed any of it to look at me. That told me that either I was a really good pretender still, or the transforming work of Jesus truly is miraculous. I prefer to believe the latter. Especially since I was on a quest at the time to be more real and drop my “happy church face” (unless I really was happy, of course 😊).

We are called to “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. . .” -James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬. ‬ We are also to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” -Romans‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB. We can’t do these things without being transparent with one another; honest and vulnerable. It’s not easy, I know, especially for those of us who are more old school . . . and it’s not impossible. I’ve done it and I’m getting better at it with the Lord’s help. There is no perfection this side of eternity. NO ONE person and NO ONE’S life is perfect, no matter how it looks on Facebook or Instagram. Trying to pretend perfection is, I have come to believe, a waste of energy.

While I always have a reason to be joyful in Christ, I may not always be happy and that’s okay. Jesus never promised me a life of constant happiness and freedom from trouble. Quite the opposite, in fact. Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬. He has overcome the sin that caused this fallen world we live in and one day all will be made right! What a great thing to rejoice over! In the meantime, happiness that depends on circumstances comes and goes.

We Christians are called to be there for each other and to remind one another of our source of joy. We give each other hope, encouragement, comfort and friendship in a very special way. We call it fellowship – “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests”. -Merriam Webster’s Dictionary. However, if we don’t know that someone has a need it’s difficult to meet it. If we constantly are upbeat and look and act like all is well, that’s what most people are going to think of us – that we’re okay – regardless of the truth of the pain we hide inside.

I’m still a work in progress and will be for the rest of my life. I’m still working on the whole transparency thing and that’s key – that I keep doing the work and don’t give up. It’s difficult at times. Pride is a huge obstacle to transparency, and pride is a big part of human nature. Fortunately, with God all things are possible – even overcoming pride! “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” -Matthew‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

😊💕